Abstract In this contribution we concentrate on two selected oxides, MgO and BeO, and examine theoretically their basic positron characteristics. In particular, we calculate the bulk positron lifetime and affinity and determine the positron distribution in defect free systems. Both self-consistent and non-self-consistent computational methods are used in calculations. Obtained characteristics are then discussed in terms of the structure and bonding properties of oxides and are compared to experimental data available. The issue of electron–positron correlations in insulating materials is also mentioned.